How to Get Rid of Bagworms: 3 Steps
Are your trees yellowing? Are branches dying? Shrubs not looking so healthy?
Bagworms could be the cause. And if they’re to blame, you’ll need to act quickly to save your lawn’s greenery and trees.
These highly destructive moths can be found throughout North American and are notorious for stripping entire trees and bushes bare. They’re well camouflaged too: their name comes from the shell-like bags they build and hide within as they feed on your lawn’s plant life and lay additional tree-destroying larvae.
If you have bagworms, you can’t afford to waste any time. So let’s dive right in. Here’s how to get rid of bagworms in 3 simple steps and without harsh chemicals.
1. IDENTIFY AND REMOVE
Apart from shrubbery and tree damage, there’s one tell-tale sign of bagworms: the hard-shelled protective cases mentioned above.
Made from silk, twigs, leaves, and other nearby materials, these brown, cocoon-like bags resemble slim pinecones, about 2 inches long. They tend to be most prevalent in conifers like pine, spruce and cypress trees, but they can be found in most any type of tree, bush, or hedge, and even along large stones.
Female bagworms will spend their entire lives inside these sacks, laying up to 1,000 eggs, each of which will turn into another bagworm ready to defoliate your trees. Males on the other hand, will emerge from the bags in late summer after mating with the female.WHEN AND HOW TO REMOVE BAGWORMS
Because their eggs start dropping and hatching in spring, you’ll want to do a sweep for bagworms in your trees and bushes first in fall and then again in late winter and early spring. We can’t reiterate enough just how much headache and damage you can prevent by removing bagworms before they start hatching. In fact, if you start the process early, you can often prevent bagworm issues outright. They can be difficult to spot so take your time and use a flashlight, even in the day time. We recommend repeating this process every year.
To remove bagworms by hand, simply grab yourself a pair of gardening gloves and a bucket of soapy water. When you come across one of their pinecone-like bags, just pluck it off the tree and place it in the bucket. The soapy water will take care of the rest. After you remove all the bagworm sacks you can find, remember to cut the silk bands they use to connect their bags to your trees. This can prevent additional bagworms and incidental damage to your shrubbery and trees.
Lastly, make sure to rake up any debris and leaves under each affected tree and dump what you collect in a trash can far removed from your home. There’s a good chance a few eggs have already dropped to the ground and this will prevent those from hatching, too.
2. FAMILY-SAFE PEST CONTROL
Lawns that are already host to other bugs tend to be far more vulnerable to bagworm problems. So treating your lawn for bugs just as soon as the winter freezes subside is absolutely crucial to avoid and control bagworms and the severe damage they cause.
Starting no later than April, spray your entire front and backyard—including bushes, hedges, shrubbery, and trees—with family-safe and pet-friendly PCO Choice. If you notice clusters of bagworms in certain branches, make sure to give those a good soak, too. For your first application of the season, apply twice the first month two weeks apart, and then just once a month after that. Repeat monthly treatments until freezing conditions return to your region.
For additional bug protection, we strongly recommend broadcasting Insect-Repelling Cedar Granules throughout your yard, garden, and along the bases of trees and bushes.
Because PCO Choice and Cedar granules are both non-toxic and plant-based, no downtime is necessary. You, your family and even pets can enjoy your lawn again without the delay required with dangerous, chemical-based lawn sprays.
3. LET NATURE DO THE WORK
Recent studies have shown nature can be your biggest ally in the fight against destructive bagworm populations. Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed that installing certain flowering plants near shrubbery and trees vulnerable to bagworms can help significantly reduce bagworms and their damage. The plants used in the study were all members of the aster family, including Shasta daisies, New England asters, and Gazania (aka treasure flowers).
You see, these flowers attract small parasitic wasps called ichneumonid wasps, which parasitize mature bagworms, killing them and preventing additional eggs and larvae. And don’t worry, these aren’t the types of wasps that sting or bug your family—they’re essentially harmless to humans.
The research found that planting the above flowers around trees and shrubbery lead to a 70% increase in the frequency of these wasps attacking and thereby killing and preventing bagworms. Pretty amazing, right!?